My Season of Yes
Written by Mandy Shold
Sometimes change comes slowly, the way the evening sky greets the dusk. Then there are times where it comes all at once, swallowing you whole. For me, the past few months have definitely leaned toward the latter.
In the last six months, I’ve had a myriad of change thrust upon me. My job was up in the air, my parents moved to a different state (The Head and the Heart lyrics anyone?), I put down my dog – well two dogs actually - and I ended a dead-end relationship. Everything always happens at once, right?
In the face of all this, I had a choice to make. I could stand there, out of breath and clinging to the life I’d had just a few months earlier. Or, I could use the opportunity to admit it was time for a change—a good change; a positive, perspective change. Instead of resisting, I began to embrace the unknown. So began my summer of yes.
I’m just about the least spontaneous person you’ll meet. Seriously. I’m the girl whose planner has notes to “be spontaneous”—weeks in advance. And this past spring, I found myself stuck in a rut. Don’t get me wrong; I’d classify it as a productive rut. But a rut, nonetheless. Every morning I was doing the same workout series that was beneficial, but hardly inspiring. I was attempting to meal prep on the weekends, but seemed to only cook the same three meals on repeat. I was doing well at work, but only because I was repeating the same tasks for the same clients over and over again. At the end of the day, I’d come home, watch the same Netflix shows and realize I hadn’t moved the needle. Not even an inch.
One otherwise uninspiring Wednesday in June, I got a reminder for a brewery tour in San Francisco I had expressed interest in months earlier. I knew I had to go. In that moment, I finally wanted something more than I was afraid of it. And that was when I committed myself to my Summer of Yes.
My “season of yes” is exactly what it sounds like: I made the decision that I would respond to any opportunity or invitation that came my way (even if it was well beyond my comfort zone) with a resounding yes. Committing to a few months of the unplanned, unstructured and unknown didn’t exactly come naturally to me. But, slowly, day-by-day, it got easier. And eventually, it became second-nature.
My season of yes meant not lying my way out of going out on a Friday simply because I was tired. It meant not flaking on friends at the last minute because I had succumbed to the need to binge a series I’d already watched three times. It meant immediately and enthusiastically responding with “yes” even though my constitution was to hesitate before instinctively saying no.
And here’s what happened next: all good things.
At work, I started saying yes to new projects and working with new clients, and was recognized for “raising my hand.” A few weeks into the summer, my newfound enthusiasm and team spirit was greeted with a promotion and a raise. At this point, my summer of yes was off to a great start.
Over the months to follow, I saw strengthened friendships and new relationships just from the simple act of saying yes. “Yes” to attending the baseball game of a team I hardly knew with people I knew even less. “Yes” to that spontaneous trip to Las Vegas with my old college roommate. “Yes” to the date with the maybe-more-than friend (even if I didn't technically know it was a date at the time). And in learning more about the people around me, I learned more about myself, suddenly seeing all the things I was proud of rather than my “areas for improvement.”
I felt more confident, more relaxed and—somehow—more like me. In seeking out new things, I learned new things about myself. As I fielded recommendations for new shows, new books and new bands, I rediscovered how much I love reading sci-fi, listening to 70s music and watching 90s sitcoms. I learned just how much I love a good paloma, how plum is my new favorite power lipstick and how much I enjoy driving around without the GPS dictating my every move. In my summer of yes, I learned how to be me again.
There were awkward dates and plenty of days where I dipped into my savings account (it turns out saying yes is expensive!). But despite the sacrifices, it was well worth it. In the months since that random Wednesday in June, I’ve been on four other brewery tours, attended San Francisco’s Oktoberfest and even bought myself a pair of leather lederhosen. Not only have I replied “yes” to trying dozens of beers in the last few months, I’ve also made half a dozen new friends.
The truth is, great things never come from inside your comfort zone. At the end of each day, I never had any regrets. As this year folds into the next, I’m planning to keep in the spirit of my summer of yes—and I’d encourage you to do the same! Embrace your chance to change as well, whether it’s trying a new haircut or applying for that job you never thought you had a chance at.
Embrace change. Be bold. And say yes.
Mandy spends her days working in public relations, specializing in sustainability and corporate responsibility - a job which not only fuels her soul but also pays her San Francisco rent. She spends her (virtually nonexistent) free time exploring the Bay Area craft beer scene, working on her rock collection and wishing her cat would be the big spoon sometimes. For additional sass and details of her life held together by caffeine and dry shampoo, follow her on twitter at @WayToRepresent and check out her past work for us here, here and here.